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[00:00:03]

John F. Kennedy's first reaction was intensely and explicitly personal. He can't do this to me, the president of the United States said as he was briefed in bed about the deployment of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, a deployment that put these weapons of mass destruction fewer than 15 minutes away from Washington, D.C.. It was the morning of Tuesday, October 16th, 1962, the beginning of two of the most dangerous weeks in human history. Kennedy called his attorney general, his brother, Robert Kennedy, with the news.

[00:00:37]

Oh, shit, shit, shit. RFQ said those sons of bitches, Russians, as Jacqueline Kennedy described it to Arthur Schlesinger Jr. after JFK's assassination. It was just Cuba, Cuba all the time in one way or another.

[00:00:53]

The 13 day crisis itself in October 1962 was a blur of late hours and perpetual meetings. There was, Mrs. Kennedy recalled, no day or night.

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I'm Jon Meacham, and this is Hope through history. Episode for the Cuban Missile Crisis. You're talking about the destruction of a country, there will be 80 to 100 million casualties in the United States alone on missiles in Cuba, and the only thing to do now is to bomb them and invade the island to get them out. You can have a discussion, but nobody tells the president what to do or not. He said the only solution, Mr. Chairman, is for you to launch a nuclear first strike on the United States.

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On October 22nd, 1962, President John F. Kennedy broadcast a special message to the nation from his office in the White House.

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I was a seven year old growing up in Illinois, and I actually watched Kennedy's speech announcing the fact that there were missiles in Cuba and the fact that the United States was going to try to get them out even at the price of war.

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This is Michael Beschloss, historian and author of nine books about the presidency, including The Crisis Years, Kennedy and Khrushchev, nineteen sixty to sixty three and to me at the age of seven.

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What it reminded me of was a tornado where where I grew up, which was outside of Chicago. A couple of times a summer we would go down to the cellar until the tornado warning or the tornado itself was over and you didn't know if your house was going to be there or not. And I figured that this would be like that for the whole world. That evening, my fellow citizens, this government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island.

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The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere in the context of the crisis is, as always, critical.

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In the heart of Europe, Berlin was in play, its fate a central and unknowable. In sixty one, the United States had deployed Jupiter missiles to Turkey, seemingly shifting the balance of strategic power to American advantage. Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, wanted to redress that balance and project Soviet power closer to American shores.

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On January 1st, 1959, Batista, the dictator, was overthrown. Fidel Castro's arrival in Havana was triumphant. When Castro went soon to the United States, he was greeted enthusiastically as a Cuban nationalist hero. At a press conference in Washington, Castro denied a rumor that he was a communist.

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I know the ruling us of all we are communists. And of course, I have it very clear that we are not very clear.

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But for a man who denied he was a communist, Castro back in Havana acted strangely. He began attacks on the press, which led finally to confiscation and complete government control. As the free press disappeared, the communist paper boy was forced upon the people, communist propaganda flooded the country. Cuba was the perfect choice for Khrushchev and John Kennedy in issuing an ultimatum in September, saying that the United States could not tolerate such missiles in Cuba. JFK was under attack for appearing weak on foreign policy, was now in a bind.

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Kennedy had been assured by his intelligence people that there were no Soviet offensive missiles in Cuba, and on the basis of that in public more than once, Kennedy said there are no missiles in Cuba. And if there are, I would feel that that was a cause for war, if necessary, to get them out.

[00:05:22]

So Kennedy is getting out of bed. His intelligence and security people come in and say there are now missiles in Cuba. What Kennedy knew was that he had boxed himself in. Had he not made that pledge in public, he might be able to go on TV and tell Americans that these were not necessarily a direct threat to the United States. But having pledged to go to war, if necessary, to keep offensive weapons outside of Cuba, you knew that he was in for a very bad crisis and so was the world.

[00:05:53]

The options, immediate airstrikes to try to take out the weapons, but no one knew how many of them the U.S. could actually hit or whether the Soviets would immediately strike back or there could be an invasion or there could be a naval blockade and there could be diplomacy. No option was good. All risk escalation, either purposely or by miscalculation. The whole crisis was the result of a miscalculation. Moscow had wanted to install the weapons in Cuba as a largely symbolic show of influence, not so much as a provocative military maneuver.

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Khrushchev routinely inflated Soviet strength on the grounds that America recognizes only strength. Once, after he said the Soviets were churning out intercontinental rockets like sausages, he was challenged by his son, who knew the claim was untrue. Khrushchev replied. The important thing is to make the Americans believe that that way we prevent an attack. The missiles in Cuba, in other words, were designed to serve more of a political than a military purpose. We didn't want to unleash a war, Khrushchev said.

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We just wanted to frighten them to restrain the US in regard to Cuba. But the American U2 planes had detected the operation in its early stages, transforming political showmanship into nuclear brinksmanship.

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Upon receiving the first preliminary hard information of this nature last Tuesday morning at nine a.m., I directed that our surveillance be stepped up. And having now confirmed and completed our evaluation of the evidence and our decision on a course of action, this government feels obliged to report this new crisis to you in fullest detail. Each of these missiles, in short, is capable of striking Washington, D.C., the Panama Canal, Cape Canaveral, Mexico City, or any other city in the southeastern part of the United States, in Central America or in the Caribbean area.

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America was hardly blameless, the Kennedy administration had sponsored an invasion of Cuba in April 1961 and had attempted to destabilize the Castro regime in what was known as Operation Mongoose.

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Obviously, it was very important from the perspective of the administration to portray the crisis as one that was imposed on us and Bush. We had no responsibility.

[00:08:33]

This is Sheldon Stern, historian and author who has written extensively on the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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That's what Kennedy says in his speech. But of course, we now know that these today, we would call them state sponsored terrorism, always going on in Cuba with CIA operatives and various people trained in Latin America, blowing up factories and poisoning sugar cane fields and that sort of thing.

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And in addition, there was, of course, the direct effort on several occasions to assassinate Castro. The Russians and the Cubans knew all about it, but the American people did not.

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The assault has begun on the dictatorship of Fidel Castro's Cuban army. Pilots opened the first phase of organized revolt with bombing raids on three military bases. Two of the twenty six light bombers then seek asylum in Florida. Meanwhile, at the United Nations, Cuban foreign minister accused the United States of unleashing a war of invasion and invading soldiers trained in part to make a quick denial. These charges are patently false, and I deny categorically the United States has committed no aggression against Cuba and no offensive has been launched from Florida or from any other part of the United States.

[00:09:57]

So it appears to be you know, we were completely blameless. I'm not saying that there wasn't significant responsibility on Krushchev two, but it was nonetheless, there was certainly enough blame on both sides for stumbling into this potentially catastrophic situation. And, of course, it definitely contributed to Castro's, I think it's fair to say, hysterical, often hysterical reactions during the crisis, including when he cable Khrushchev on the night of the 26th. And he said the only solution, Mr.

[00:10:30]

Chairman, is for you to launch a nuclear first strike on the United States. And of course, when Kuroshio got that cable, I mean, essentially what he said was, holy shit, this thing is getting out of control. We survived the crisis as a result of several factors. First, there was John Kennedy's distrust of the certitudes of government officials and of uniformed military.

[00:10:57]

Kennedy had been burned once badly in April of 61. He would never suffer the same fate again. Second, there was former Secretary of State Dean Acheson's push within Kennedy's ad hoc crisis committee XCOM to take a more hawkish position. Acheson's view drove Robert Kennedy, the president's most influential adviser, to a more dovish position. And third, the American Agreement to remove the Jupiter missiles from Turkey sometime after the removal of the Soviet missiles from Cuba offered the key resolution.

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But the exchange was to be kept secret. Let's begin with John Kennedy's personal views. He was skeptical of the advice he received both from the military and from the CIA. Kennedy was a young man with an abiding interest in history. The author of two books, Why England Slept About Appeasement and Profiles in Courage. Kennedy was a man of the urgent present, intrigued by the past. Perhaps above all, he valued experience and he enjoyed seeing how reality tracked or failed to with the assumptions of those outside the arena.

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John Kennedy's most important hours were in the context of the Cold War, beginning with the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and culminating in the missile crisis of 1962. In the first instance, he was horrified by his failure to see the flaws in the planning.

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Meanwhile, in Havana, expectant crowds await the first appearance of Castro since the invasion began. It takes to the air for a four and a half hour vituperative attack on the United States and put an end to rumors that he was incapacitated. How could I have been so stupid? Kennedy asked himself and others in the aftermath, 1500 men had been sent to the beaches. Later, estimates suggested it would have taken a whole division, 15000 men, to conduct a successful amphibious operation of this scope.

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To a CIA officer, the president admitted in a parliamentary system, I would resign to make sense of things, Kennedy turned to one of the only men who could possibly know what he was going through.

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A helicopter arrives at the presidential hideaway at Camp David with Mr. Kennedy is conferring with former President Eisenhower, who also arrived by the conference last for an hour and a half and ends with the former president calling for support while the man who has to carry the responsibility for our foreign affairs. The conference agenda is secret about the Cuban invasion was surely discussed. The United States shows a united front in foreign policy.

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JFK had been dismissive of Dwight Eisenhower during the 1960 campaign, but suddenly found the former president a source of insight. After lunch in the presidential cabin at Camp David in the wake of the Bay of Pigs, the two men took a walk. Eisenhower asked a crucial question.

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Mr. President, before you approve this plan, did you have everybody in front of you debating the thing? So you got the pros and cons yourself and then made the decision? Or did you see these people one at a time? Can his answer wasn't reassuring? Well, I did have a meeting, I just approved a plan that had been recommended by the CIA and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I just took their advice. He would never do that again.

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Eisenhower advised him there is only one thing to do when you get into this kind of thing, it must be a success, Kennedy replied.

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Well, I assure you that hereafter, if we get into anything like this, it is going to be a success.

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Kennedy had learned not to trust military and intelligence advisers and take what they said at face value. That's what had led to that failed invasion of Cuba. So when Kennedy was besieged with all these people saying there are missiles in Cuba and the only thing to do now is to bomb them and invade the island to get them out. Kennedy's first instinct was to be skeptical. Without the Bay of Pigs, that might not have happened.

[00:15:22]

A cool realist in the tradition of Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and FDR. John Kennedy knew, as he put it, that every president must endure a gap between what he would like and what is possible. And looking back to the past. Kennedy hoped the realism of his predecessors would make his own pragmatism seem statesmanlike rather than opportunistic. He was put another way, seeking sanction from those who'd come before.

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One big lesson of Kennedy in the missile crisis is make sure we elect a president who knows a lot of history. Kennedy had just read the book, The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman and the message from that book that he picked up was make sure there is no accidental troop movement or statement that will convince the other side that we are about to go escalate to nuclear war.

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And as a result, Kennedy, during those 13 days, made sure that he knew that everything that was being said, even by mid-level officials in the Pentagon, where every ship was, where every airplane was, to make sure that he would not accidentally send a message to Khrushchev that would lead directly to nuclear war.

[00:16:33]

You need a president whose hands on you need a president with a sense of history.

[00:16:39]

These lessons guided him hour by hour through the missile crisis. In a book review written just a few months before the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy had quoted a military strategist. Keep strong if possible. In any case, keep cool, have unlimited patience, never corner an opponent and always assist him to save face. Put yourself in his shoes so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil. Nothing is so self blinding. Such was the man who managed the Cuban missile crisis.

[00:17:22]

The stakes couldn't have been higher. Possible casualty estimates range from 70 to 100 million Americans. JFK believed the existence of the nation was in the balance, as Kennedy told the country in the midst of the standoff. Not in the United States of America, nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril.

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Nuclear weapons are so destructive and ballistic missiles are so swift that any substantially increased possibility of their use or any sudden change in their deployment may well be regarded as a definite threat to peace. He was governing in a new world, but one in which the analogies and experience of the past were constant forces.

[00:18:28]

As Kennedy said, the 1930s taught us a clear lesson.

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Aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately lead to war. This nation is opposed to war. We are also true to our word. Our unswerving objective, therefore, must be to prevent the use of these missiles against this or any other country and to secure their withdrawal or elimination from the Western Hemisphere. There was therefore only a single goal, the removal of the missiles, but how to get there? In Moscow, Khrushchev understood that the old and the new were intersecting the ancient impulses of great nations to expand their influence and encircle their enemies, was at work in a world in which any scuffle or skirmish could end quickly in Armageddon.

[00:19:25]

Of course, America would be obsessed with Cuba. Khrushchev thought the US couldn't accept the idea of a socialist Cuba right off the coast of the United States, serving as a revolutionary example to the rest of Latin America, he said. Likewise, we prefer to have socialist countries for neighbors because that is expedient for us. At first, the main options were air attack, invasion or blockade. On Friday, October 19th. Kennedy met with the Joint Chiefs, musing about the complexities of the Cold War.

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The president said that an attack on Cuba might lead to a Soviet attack on Berlin, which leaves me with only one alternative, he said, which is to fire nuclear weapons, which is a hell of an alternative.

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They all said, Mr. President, in our opinion, we have to hit Cuba with they didn't say nuclear weapons. I want to make that clear. He said we would have to invade and we have to bomb all the sites and do whatever comes as a result, period.

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He said to the Joint Chiefs during that terribly, terribly difficult meeting on the 19th when they just attacked him unanimously for not invading Cuba and doing whatever was necessary.

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He said, You're talking about the destruction of a country. There will be 80 to 100 million casualties in the United States alone.

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And it didn't have the slightest effect on them. They just didn't hear it. General Curtis LeMay dismissed the president's concerns about a Soviet counterstrike without an attack on Cuba, not a blockade, but a real attack, the Soviets would see America as fatally weak. LeMay said it will lead right into war. This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich.

[00:21:19]

Le May took it a step further, he said. Mr President, this blockade and political action is just as bad as the appeasement and Munich. And that's a pretty strong thing to say, but it has an extra edge, which was not mentioned, of course, but everybody knew it around that table.

[00:21:39]

And LeMay was referring to JFK, his father, who was the U.S. ambassador to England during the appeasement of the Germans in thirty seven to thirty nine by the British. And he was a very strong supporter of Neville Chamberlain and the appeasement of the Nazis. So, I mean, basically saying, Mr. President, you're a coward just like your father. That's what it meant. Kennedy never lost his cool to me. When I heard you the first time, I was astounded that I thought he would respond and respond with anger.

[00:22:12]

But he didn't say a thing. When LeMay said that the president was in quite a fix, Kennedy asked him to repeat himself. What did you say? You're in a pretty bad fix. Well, you're in there with me, Kennedy replied personally. Afterward to an aide, Kennedy observed, These brass hats have one great advantage in their favor. If we listen to them and do what they want us to do, none of us will be alive later to tell them that they were wrong.

[00:22:47]

The military could drive him mad. The first advice I'm going to give my successor, Kennedy once told the journalist Ben Bradlee, is to watch the generals and to avoid feeling that because they were military men, their opinions on military matters were worth a damn. And so it was that as the debate over air strikes, invasion and blockade unfolded, President Kennedy resisted being seduced by any one faction of his advisors. He knew that each came to the table with preconceptions and interests of their own.

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You've got people, generals, cabinet secretaries, senior staff sitting along one side and sitting on the other, and then there's one person at the head of the table. This is David Plouffe, the former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. And you can have a discussion. It could even be a heated discussion where the room disagrees, but nobody tells the president what to do or not to do.

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They have enormous power, particularly in areas of foreign policy or crisis response.

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So the character and attributes around good decision making, fostering discussion and dissent, studying history. I mean, if it's a meeting where you're making a decision, all heads turn and say, what would you like to do, Mr. President?

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Our policy has been one of patience and restraint, as befits a peaceful and powerful nation which leads a worldwide alliance. We have been determined not to be diverted from our central concerns by mere irritants and fanatics. But now further action is required and it is underway. And these actions may only be the beginning. We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the course of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth. But neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.

[00:24:57]

Only the two Kennedys, the president and the attorney general, had the ability to see the whole what Robert Kennedy saw leads us to our second factor, his annoyance with the seemingly blasé views of the Hawks at XCOM, particularly former Secretary of State Dean Acheson. On Wednesday, October 17th, Acheson said that the Soviets had their tail caught in a screen door and we ought to twist it. Listening to debates about a surprise attack on Cuba, RFQ wrote a private note.

[00:25:30]

I now know how Tojo felt when he was planning Pearl Harbor.

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Arguing against Atcheson, RFQ said, My brother is not going to be the Tojo of the 60s. The analogy was weak, but Bobby Kennedy's instinctive opposition to Acheson's hawkishness was essential. Acheson was arguing for immediate airstrikes to take out the missiles in Cuba.

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Ask how Moscow would react, Acheson said. I know the Soviet Union very well. They will knock out our missiles in Turkey. Well, then what would we do? He was asked. I believe under our NATO treaty with which I was associated, we would be required to respond by knocking out a missile base inside the Soviet Union. Then what would they do? Well, that's when we hope that cooler heads will prevail and they'll stop and talk. But there was likely no such thing as limited nuclear war.

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We are very, very close to war, JFK told aides on the 20th. And there's not enough room in the White House shelter for all of us.

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This nation is prepared to present its case against the Soviet threat to peace and our own proposals for a peaceful world. We have in the past made strenuous efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. We have proposed the elimination of all arms and military bases in a fair and effective disarmament treaty. We are prepared to discuss new proposals for the removal of tensions on both sides, including the possibilities of a genuinely independent Cuba free to determine its own destiny. We have no wish to war with the Soviet Union, but we are peaceful people who desire to live in peace with all other peoples.

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Interestingly, without the hawks, the doves could never have won the day during the crisis.

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By so pointedly underscoring the harsh military options, figures such as Acheson, McGeorge Bundy and the Joint Chiefs gave the Kennedys a foil, even if in real time they couldn't know whether the hawks were a foil or the prevailing faction. The human factor here is immensely important. The Kennedys were young. Their father, Joseph P. Kennedy senior, had been on the wrong side of history in the march to World War Two, favoring accommodation with Germany. JFK and Ofek would have felt additional pressure not to appear weak, which meant that resisting pressure to strike quickly required courage.

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I think this is literally not just one of the finest hours for American diplomacy, but for decision making in itself.

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This is Harvard professor and foreign policy expert Graham Allison.

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First lesson, Kennedy refused to be rushed to judgment. Secondly, she knew that he didn't know everything. So he organized a process, including people he knew were going to disagree with him. That would be a deliberative process for which he learned to laugh and all the other parties thought he was prepared to change his mind. Two days in, he would have ordered an air strike by the end of the week. You handle just the opposite. If he had conducted the air strike that he would have done on the second day of the third day of the crisis, and that indeed many of his advisers were strongly recommending on the day that he chose the blockade and said if we had done the we strike, as we now know, nobody knew it at the time.

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The Soviets already had tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba that would have been fired against Miami and other places.

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In the case of such an attack, a sign of how much peer pressure there was to strike Cuba came when John Kennedy briefed congressional leaders late on the afternoon of Monday, October 22nd. Richard Russell, the Georgia senator and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, pushed for stronger action than a simple blockade, Russell said. It seems to me we're at a crossroads where either a world class power or we're not. The president tried to calm the senator. If we go into Cuba, we have to all realize that we are taking a chance that these missiles which are ready to fire, won't be fired.

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That is one hell of a gamble, the president hated the pressure, if they want this job, fuck them. The president said afterward they can have it. It's no great joy to me. The speech the president gave that evening to the nation announcing the discovery of the missiles commanded an audience of one million Americans, arguably the largest presidential audience ever, with the possible exception of Franklin Roosevelt's prayer on D-Day in 1944. During the speech, the American military went to DEFCON three two level short of nuclear war.

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This level of readiness meant that the nation's nuclear arsenal could be deployed, both missiles and bombers, within 15 minutes of a presidential order.

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My fellow citizens, I want to take this opportunity to report on the conclusions which this government has reached on the basis of yesterday's aerial photographs, which will be made available tomorrow, as well as other indications, namely that the Soviet missile bases in Cuba are being dismantled, their missiles and related equipment are being created, and the fixed installations at these sites are being destroyed.

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In the end, it was a deal. The exchange of missiles in Cuba for missiles in Turkey that ended the crisis peaceably, Robert Kennedy served as a useful back channel. Khrushchev turned out to be a rational actor. He was interested in temporal power, not an epic destruction. In a message to the president, Khrushchev said, You wish to ensure the security of your country and this is understandable. But Cuba, too, wants the same thing. All countries want to maintain their security.

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But how are we, the Soviet Union, our government, to assess your actions, which are expressed in the fact that you have surrounded the Soviet Union with military bases, surrounded our allies with military bases, placed military bases literally around our country and stationed your missile armaments there? This is no secret. Your missiles are located in Britain, are located in Italy and are aimed against us. Your missiles are located in Turkey. You are disturbed over Cuba.

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You say that this disturbs you because it is 90 miles by sea from the coast of the United States of America. But Turkey adjoins us. Our sentries patrol back and forth and see each other. How then can recognition of our equal military capacities be reconciled with such unequal relations between our great states? This is irreconcilable. I think it would be possible to end the controversy quickly and normalize the situation, and then the people could breathe more easily. Considering that statesmen charged with responsibility are of sober mind and have an awareness of their responsibility combined with the ability to solve complex questions and not bring things to a military catastrophe.

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When the crisis was resolved, you know, we said we check missiles out of Turkey, not invade Cuba, that was a huge propaganda victory for Khrushchev. But interestingly enough, he was willing to make the concession of not revealing the other part of the deal, which is that Kennedy would remove missiles from Turkey. The Kennedys insisted that that would remain secret. We will remove those missiles in a few months, but not with a gun in our heads.

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And Khrushchev understood that. I mean, he understood that making decisions like this in a democracy where you got a free press is very different from in the Soviet Union. Ironically, I would make the point it was much easier for Khrushchev to back down than it was for Kennedy. If you think about it and in that sense, to come to an agreement like that for Khrushchev, well, you know, he'll tell the public whatever he wants and that's what they'll know.

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And that's if they don't believe it, they're not going to say anything. There was no free press, but in the United States, it was very different. So for Kennedy, he had to get that agreement. It would look as if we had been bullied into removing the missiles from Turkey.

[00:34:18]

Khrushchev had gambled, making a pre nuclear age move in a nuclear age. Finally, he decided the removal of the missiles in Turkey was a reasonable trade off to avoid an escalating nuclear war. The resolution came on the darkest day of the Cold War. Saturday, October twenty 27th, 1962. An American U2 plane was shot down over Cuba, and Robert Kennedy paid a call on the Soviet ambassador because of the shoot down, the result of a field commanders decision, not a directive from Moscow.

[00:34:52]

The advantage was slightly in the American direction. The missiles would be taken out of Turkey, but only quietly. And in a few months, the Soviets agreed the game had grown far too hot. The politicians understood one another. Afterward, JFK remarked, One of the ironic things is that Mr. Khrushchev and I occupy approximately the same political positions inside our government as he would like to prevent a nuclear war, but is under severe pressure from his hard line crowd, which interprets every move in that direction as appeasement.

[00:35:30]

I've got similar problems. The hard liners in the Soviet Union and the United States feed on one another.

[00:35:39]

On the day that Kennedy was told about missiles in Cuba, almost everyone around him was saying there is only one option that is open to you, and that is invading Cuba and bombing the missile sites. We now know with decades of hindsight, had Kennedy taken that advice at face value there very quickly, almost certainly would have been an escalation of nuclear war. Perhaps 60 million people would have been killed in the northern hemisphere. Many of us would not be alive.

[00:36:08]

Kennedy said once the crisis was over, perhaps this is the night I should go to the theater, referring to Ford's Theater and Abraham Lincoln, the idea that his reputation would never be higher, Robert Kennedy replied, If you're going to the theater, I want to go with you. Very poignant, given what happened to the both. Thirteen months after his October 22nd address to the nation, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Like most, if not all presidents, he had been obsessed with his presidential legacy.

[00:36:44]

Would Lincoln have been as great a president if he'd lived? JFK had once asked the historian David Herbert Donald no. Professor Donald said reconstruction almost surely would have undermined Lincoln's overall historical standing.

[00:37:00]

Mrs. Kennedy recalled after the assassination. And then I remember Jack saying after the Cuban missile crisis, when it all turned out so fantastically, he said, well, if anyone's ever going to shoot me, this would be the day they should do it.

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I mean, it's so strange, these things that come back, Mrs. Kennedy mused, because he saw then that it will never top this. The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards as all paths, but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world. The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose. And that is the path of surrender or submission.

[00:37:55]

Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right, not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom here in this hemisphere. And we hope around the world, God willing, that goal will be achieved. Thank you and good night. On the next hope through history, a look at the 1918 influenza pandemic, a president under fire and the historical implications of an invisible enemy. Thank you for listening to hope through history, a production of Cadenced 13 in association with history executive produced by me, Jon Meacham and Chris Corcoran, directed by Chris Corcoran, John McDermott and Lloyd Lockridge, and edited, produced, engineered and mastered by Chris Bazil, Bill Schulz, Rich Berner and Sean Cherry.

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Graphic Design, Marketing and publicity by Josephine Francis, Kurt, Courtney and Hilary show.

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Our theme song is Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka.